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By Alberto Amalfi | Friday, March 6, 2020

Fabio Fognini

Playing behind closed doors without fans in Cagliari, Fabio Fognini and Italy muted Korea charging to a 2-0 lead on day one of Davis Cup Qualifiers.

Photo credit: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Facebook

In a strangely sterile atmosphere, Italy silenced South Korea.

Playing behind closed doors without a crowd due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, Fabio Fognini and Gianluca Mager each scored straight-sets wins lifting Italy to a 2-0 lead in the Davis Cup Qualifier on the clay of Cagliari.

More: U.S. Rides Punk Power in Davis Cup Qualifier

World No. 11 Fognini was in near flawless form dismissing Duckhee Lee 6-0, 6-3 to open today's tie. Fognini more than quadrupled Lee's winner output—18 to 4—in a 64-minute thrashing.

In his Davis Cup debut, Mager broke serve four times in a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Ji Sung Nam. Both matches were played before a small group of observers
including teammates, media and support staff—as spectators were banned out of concern for the coronavirus which has hit Italy.

Subdued conditions were a bit like seeing musicians peform a concert to a near empty hall. The muted atmosphere left the flamboyant Fognini feeling normally racous Davis Cup condtions were "strange." 

"Conditions were strange," Fognini told Davis "I guess I am the first in Italy to play a Davis Cup match in these conditions. It was not difficult to focus, but it was a bit strange to play in front of 100 people.

"But safety first and then sport. I’m happy, the first point is very important."

The host can clinch victory in the best-of-five-match tie tomorrow winning either the doubles match or reverse singles pitting Fognini against Sung and Mager vs. Lee. 

Twenty-four nations are squaring off in this week's Davis Cup play in a bid to win one of 12 qualifying spots for the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals.

The 12 losing nations will compete in World Group I ties in September 2020.

The winning nations from this weekend will join the six nations who have already qualified for the 2020 Davis Cup Finals—the 2019 semifinalists, Canada, Great Britain, Russia and champion Spain—and the 2020 wild cards, France and Serbia.

Davis Cup Qualifiers Day One

(5) Australia 2, Brazil 0
At Memorial Drive Tennis Club, Adelaide, Australia on outdoor hard court

John Millman rallied past 19-year-old Thiago Seyboth Wild 4-6, 7-6(0), 6-2 staking the green-and-gold to a 2-0 lead. Seyboth Wild made history on Sunday becoming the youngest Brazilian to win at ATP title when he collected his first career championship in Santiago.

James Duckworth and John Peers will try to clinch for the Aussies in Saturday's doubles match.

(1) Croatia 2, India 0
At Dom Sportova, Zagreb, Croatia on indoor hard court

Borna Gojo battled by Prajnesh Gunneswaran 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 for his first career Davis Cup victory. Marin Cilic fired 18 aces against one double fault squeezing out a 7-6(8),  
7-6(8) win over  Ramkumar Ramanathan to put the host in control.

Mate Pavic and Franko Skugor will aim to clinch for Croatia tomorrow against veterans Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes in doubles. Cilic is scheduled to play Gunneswaran followed by Gojo against Ramanathan in reverse singles.

Austria 1, Uruguay 1
At Steiermarkhalle Schwarzlsee, Graz I Premstätten, Austria on indoor hard court

Pablo Cuevas edged Jurij Rodionov 6-7(7), 6-3, 7-6(5) to level for Uruguay. Cuevas, who did not face a break point in the match, scored the lone break in the second set and pulled out a two hour, 49-minute thriller.

Dennis Novak opened the day's play defeating Martin Cuevas, Pablo's younger brother, 6-2, 6-4.

Veterans Oliver Marach and Jurgen Melzer join forces for Austria in tomorrow's doubles vs. Ariel Behar and Pablo Cuevas.

Ecuador 2, 
(11) Japan 0
At Bourbon Beans Dome, Miki, Japan on indoor hard court

Tie-break toughness empowered Ecuador against a depleted Japanese squad playing without stars Kei Nishikori and Yoshihito Nishioka.

Roberto Quiroz out-dueled Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-6(4), 2-6, 7-6(8) staking the visitors to the lead. Emilio Gomez opened the tie with a 7-5, 7-6(3) decision over Go Soeda.

Sweden 1, Chile 1
At The Royal Tennis Hall (Kungl. Tennishallen), Stockholm,Sweden on indoor hard court

It was a tale of two different results for the Ymer brothers.

Mikael Ymer breezed by Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera 6-2, 6-3 to stake Sweden to the early lead before Chile's Alejandro Tabilo topped Elis Ymer 6-4, 6-3 to level.


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